Batley's Bacon is saved for posterity

Issue 485

A VALUABLE painting by Francis Bacon will not be sold off to ease the impact of budget cuts, council officials said.
It had been suggested Figure Study II, bought for the former Batley Council in 1952, would be sold to offset an £80m budget cut.
The Government has told councils to sell assets first rather than slash public services and Kirklees is now reviewing an inventory of more than 2,000 items.
But council officials have rejected any suggestion the Francis Bacon work could be sold – as there is a covenant in place to protect it.
The 1946 work, which was loaned to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York two years ago, was bought by the Contemporary Art Society.
It was then accepted by Bagshaw Art Gallery curator Ronald Gelsthorpe on behalf of Batley Council with restrictions to prevent its sale.
The painting is on show until the end of August at Huddersfield Art Gallery, which is the only one in Kirklees with the right conditions for displaying it.
Its companion piece, Figure Study I, is in a collection owned by the National Galleries of Scotland.
Both featured in the BBC series British Masters, which looked at the legacy of Bacon and other contemporary artists.
The works are considered important, rare and valuable as Bacon destroyed most of his work from the 1930s and 1940s.
A Kirklees Council spokesman said: “Figure Study II was the first work by Bacon to enter a public collection outside London.
“It was accepted on behalf of Batley Council. Because of this there are restrictions that prevent the council from selling it on.”

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